There is a moment between slumber and waking that is always wrapped in fog. You might hear a sound that seems logical while you dream it but it would not be so in consciousness. This morning I was dreaming that a mocking bird was making the shrill scream of a guinea hen. It seemed plausible in my dream although I've never heard a mockingbird mimic a guinea hen in real life. But something was not quite right and I woke up. In a moment I realized that the guinea hens were, in fact, screaming. I glanced at the clock, worried that I had overslept. The guinea hens have a strict schedule and if I don't let the chickens out of their house before dawn the guinea hens, who roost on top of the chicken's coop, always yell to tell me that I am falling down on the job. The clock said 3:58 AM. The guinea hens, although somewhat bossy at times, have never been so rude as to wake up this early. I must admit though, their safety and well being was not the first thing that came to my mind, once I realized something was wrong. I was more worried that they were going to wake up our neighbors. So I jumped out of bed and rushed to hush them up. As I stepped out the front door an onto the porch the chill of early morning air slapped my face. The guinea hens were still screaming, all three of them in unison. I had the good flashlight in my hand, the one in which the beam will reach the man in the moon if need be, but still I did not see what all the ruckus was about. As I neared the chicken coop a huge owl came into focus. It was standing about two feet away from the three screaming guineas. My approach spooked it and it lifted off into the darkness. The guineas seemed comforted for a moment and they quieted right down. I scanned all the nearby trees making sure that the owl had moved on. I then said good night to the guineas, as it was still night in my mind, and I started back to the house. When I was about ten feet away the guineas started screaming again. They would quiet right down as soon as I was within ten feet of them but if I moved beyond that they would again start screaming. I tested this invisible boundary line a couple times then decided I'd better do a more thorough search so that I could go back inside and if by some miracle the neighbors had slept through this, they might in fact be able to get a couple more hours of sleep. I walked completely around the outside of the chicken yard. I inspected the nearby rabbit hutches and again lit up all the trees. This time the guineas watched closely. Satisfied that I had made sure all was safe, the guineas let me go back inside without a peep. Catching a few more winks was no longer a possibility, however, because now I need to figure out a way to keep the guineas from becoming a morning snack.